Sweden’s presidency of the Council of the EU, what to expect when it comes to the AI Act?

23.01.19|Anna Felländer

Sweden took on the presidency of the EU Council, for its third time, on January 1, 2023.

The presidency is tasked with progressing the EU Council’s work on EU legislation, ensure the continuity of the EU’s agenda and ensure that the legislative processes take place in an orderly manner and that Member States cooperate. To do so, the presidency must act in accordance with what is described as a so-called honest broker.

So, what can we expect from the Swedish presidency during the coming 6 months?

On the digital side, there are high expectations on Sweden to finalize several key legislative acts within e-privacy, semiconductors and platform workers. The front-runner when it comes to attention and prestige ought to be the new and broadly applying regulation on responsible use of artificial intelligence, the AI Act. The preparation of the Act has been carried forward by both the French and the Czech presidencies and the latter ended their session in December with a victory by ensuring the Council adopted its common position (‘general approach’) on the AI Act. The adoption of the general approach will allow the Council led by the Swedish presidency to enter the trilogues with the European Parliament and the Commission with a view to reaching agreement on the proposed regulation. But first the European Parliament will have to settle its own position and vote in plenary. The vote is delayed but expectations are that it will happen in March of this year.

Following the vote in Parliament, we can expect intense work by the Swedes to ensure orderly trilogue meetings to finalize the legislation. In its role and an honest broker, the Swedish presidency will seek to anchor a concerted approach to European competitiveness at the top of the political agenda. The view is that the EU must continue to provide the best possible conditions for a sound and open economy based on free competition, private investment and successful digitalisation. In addition to competitiveness, the priority of democratic values and the rule of law, will be key. After all, EU is based on democratic values, paving the way for cohesion, individual freedoms, non-discrimination, increased economic output and global influence. Upholding the principle of the rule of law and fundamental rights is therefore an essential element of Sweden’s – and indeed every – presidency of the Council.

Finalizing the regulation on responsible AI will mean to strike a balance in many ways. If successful, it will be a legislative cornerstone and a global inspiration and, as such, shaping the world for many years to come.